MAC: Mines and Communities

Call for greater governance in global diamond industry

Published by MAC on 2016-06-09
Source: Statements, Gulf News, Mining.com (2016-06-10)

Disputes within the Kimberley Process (set up to curtail the trade in conflict diamonds) continue to rumble on (see, for example: Amnesty: Time for diamond companies to stop hiding behind Kimberley Process).

The new Chair of the process, from the United Arab Emirates (UAE), seems to have angered members of the Civil Society Coalition, in his response to concerns about the UAE’s suitability to chair the process.

The dispute could see yet more civil society groups withdraw from it.

In the meantime, the recent Kimberley Process gathering has allowed the Central Africa Republic to resume diamond exports after a three-year ban.

Also a recent report from the communities affected by Zimbabwe's diamond mining industry, particularly around Marange, reminds of the problems the KP has faced with human rights violations, and the work it still has to do in this regard.

Broad coalition of civil society groups call for greater governance in global diamond industry

7 June 2016
 
The diamond industry continues to be tainted by links between diamonds, human rights abuses and conflict finance. We the undersigned, who represent a diverse group of national and international civil society organizations, stand united in our efforts to break these links through a variety of means and to ensure that doing so remains a central concern for governments and industry engaged in the sector. 

Collectively, we are deeply concerned by recent remarks by the 2016 Kimberley Process (KP) Chair directed at the KP Civil Society Coalition. Not only do these remarks indicate a disregard and lack of respect for the critical role that civil society has played and continues to play in the KP but they put at stake a crucial pillar of the KP’s tri-partite structure. Any attempt to marginalize or silence civil society either individually or collectively risks the foundation on which the KP is built.

We wish to remind the diamond industry, governments, and consumers of our serious concerns regarding the diamond sector and the work that still needs to be done to address these longstanding issues.

These concerns are shared by the KP Civil Society Coalition as well as those of us working outside the scheme, including Amnesty International, Global Witness, and the Enough Project. We will together continue to work on these issues in multiple forums, and continue to welcome engagement with concerned stakeholders who share our interests in seeing meaningful progress on these issues.

It is now close to 20 years since civil society organizations first brought to light serious concerns about the role of diamonds in fueling brutal conflicts across Central and West Africa. This effort led to a multilateral, multi-stakeholder negotiation over the course of several years that led to the establishment of the KP.

Civil society played an essential role throughout these initial negotiations and has remained an integral part of the system since its launch in 2003, often providing invaluable information gathering, monitoring, expertise, and analysis that the KP relies on for credible decision-making.

At times, this has required civil society organizations, whether inside the KP or not, to make strong statements and take difficult stands about failures within the KP and the actions of its participating states.

Such a stand was taken in 2016, resulting in the difficult decision of the KP Civil Society Coalition to remain engaged with the work of the KP but not to support the work of the United Arab Emirates as 2016 Chair, in the absence of meaningful engagement and reform by the UAE. No such reforms have been forthcoming.  

As a mixed grouping of both members of the KP Civil Society Coalition and allied organizations, we remain united in addressing the serious and well-known issues that continue to afflict the diamond industry. These issues have been raised repeatedly, not only by civil society but also by international organizations and the media. They include:

We note that these concerns with the state of the natural diamond sector are not those of civil society alone. The rough diamond industry as a whole faces increasing pressure from the emergence of synthetic diamonds. The presentation of synthetic diamonds as a “responsible” alternative to natural diamonds has huge implications for an industry that continues to be tainted by the association of diamonds with serious harms. The banking sector’s concerns with respect to responsible business and countering potential misuse of the sector for money laundering and threat finance also has the potential to significantly impact the diamond trade.   

The World Diamond Mark, the Diamond Producers Association, and other efforts have emerged in recent years in response to these pressures. These initiatives indicate increasing awareness of the concerns that exist across the diamond supply chain, from mining countries to manufacturers, to retailers and consumers. Actions, however, speak louder than words and we call on these organizations and the diamond industry to focus less on messaging and more on results.  

Many engaged in the diamond sector have taken positive steps, but industry and governments have a long way to go to address the issues listed above. As civil society we look forward to working together with industry and governments who share an interest in taking steps to ensure that diamonds are not tainted by association with human rights abuses and other harms. With this goal in mind, we will also engage with other stakeholders in the supply chain, such as artisanal mining associations, relevant banks, and consumers across the globe. 

The Kimberley Process is but one mechanism for engaging on diamond-related issues. It serves an important purpose. But it ignores abusive government forces, lacks transparency and places no responsibility on companies to investigate their supply chains. Other mechanisms, including those that expect diamond companies to check for and address risks in their supply chain and report publicly on the steps taken, have since emerged to increase the angles from which human rights and other concerns in the diamond industry can be tackled.   

As civil society working across a number of initiatives our commitment to seeing real progress in bringing an end to the association between diamonds, conflict and human rights abuse remains united and unfazed.   

Lucy Graham                                   
Legal Adviser     
Amnesty International
London, United Kingdom
 
Brad Brooks-Rubin
Director of Policy
Enough Project
Washington DC, United States

Roslyn Rennie
Campaigner
Global Witness
London, United Kingdom 

Shamiso Mtisi
Head of Programmes
Zimbabwe Environmental Law Association
Harare, Zimbabwe

Farai Maguwu
Executive Director
Center for Natural Resource Governance
Harare, Zimbabwe
 
Filip Reynier
Director
IPIS (International Peace
Information Service)
Antwerpen, Belgium

Felicien Mbikayi
Executive Director
Groupe d’Appui aux
Exploitants des Ressources
Naturelles (GAERN)
Kinshasa, DRC

Albert Kabuya 
Head of Programmes
Centre National d’Appui au
Développement et à la
Participation Populaire
(CENADEP)
Kinshasa, DRC
 
Jaff Napoleon Bamenjo
Coordinator
Réseau de Lutte contre la Faim (RELUFA)
Yaoundé, Cameroon

Kabinet Cissé
Executive Director
Centre du Commerce International pour le
Développent (CECIDE)
Conakry, Guinea

Michel Yoboue
Executive Director
Groupe de Recherche et de Plaidoyer sur les
Industries Extractives (GRPIE)
Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire

Alfred Brownell
Lead Campaigner
Green Advocates
Liberia, Monrovia

Abu A. Brima
Executive Director
Network Movement for Justice and
Development (NMJD)
Freetown, Sierra Leone

Joanne Lebert
Executive Director
Partnership Africa Canada (PAC)
Ottawa, Canada


Human Rights Watch Statement on the Kimberley Process

June 2016

Human Rights Watch (HRW) supports civil society efforts to reform the Kimberley Process in order to effectively tackle human rights problems linked to the diamond trade. 

The Kimberly Process Certification Scheme is an international body that was established in 2003 to end the trade of conflict diamonds representing 81 countries, and observers from the diamond industry and nongovernmental organizations.[1]
 
Although the Kimberley Process has made important progress in curtailing the trade in conflict diamonds, the group long-term credibility and relevance have been undermined by a narrow focus on the activities of anti-government rebel groups and its unwillingness to incorporate human rights protections into its standards and operations.[2]  The group's charter mandates a focus on "conflict diamonds" and narrowly defines that term to refer only to diamonds used by rebel groups to finance wars against legitimate governments. The Kimberley Process should adopt a broader focus on the full range of human rights abuses connected with diamond production, regardless of whether they are committed by governments, rebel armies, or private actors.[3]
 
HRW has also observed institutional failures by the Kimberley Process in both identifying violations of its standards and holding member states accountable for noncompliance. There is little independent monitoring of compliance with Kimberley Process rules and few penalties for violations.[4] Further, since the group makes decisions by consensus, rather than by voting, it is difficult for well-meaning countries to  ake action against a member that violates the rules if even one other member votes to block that action.  In light of these substantial issues, HRW has no intention of joining the Kimberley Process in any capacity.

However, HRW affirms its support of other organizations that are attempting to reform the Kimberley Process as civil society observers. We will continue to urge the Kimberly Process to embrace its potential to help ensure consumers can know that the stones they purchase have not been mined in situations of grave human rights abuse.
                                                          
Notes

1.  Kimberle  http://www.kimberleyprocess.com/en/participants.
2. Human Rights Watch has previously highlighted this issue through reporting on human rights abuses associated with the Marange diamond fields in eastern Zimbabwe. HRW has repeatedly called on Kimberley Process members to demand an end to human rights violations and smuggling in Marange and to insist on transparency and accountability within Zimbabwe's diamond industry. See Human Rights Watch, Deliberate Chaos: Ongoing Human Rights Abuses in the Marange Diamond Fields of Zimbabwe, June 21, 2010, http://www.hrw.org/reports/2010/06/21/deliberate-chaos-0.
3. Human Rights Watch, "Protect Jewelery Industry from the Taint of Blood Diamonds", 2010, https://www.hrw.org/news/2010/02/01/blood-diamond.
4. Human Rights Watch, "Zimbabwe: Diamond Abuses Show Need for Reforms", 2012, https://www.hrw.org/news/2012/06/04/zimbabwe-diamond-abuses-show-need-reforms.


Bin Sulayem rebukes Kimberley Process activists

Dispute over conflict diamond protocols continues to simmer

Andrew Staples, Chief Business Reporter

Gulf News

24 May 2016
 
DUBAI: As the UAE’s first meeting as host of the Kimberley Process (KP) went ahead without representatives from the KP’s Civil Society Coalition (CSC), KP Chair Ahmad Bin Sulayem had this to say to the group’s spokesman: “Get back to work.”

Bin Sulayem, executive chairman of Dubai Multi Commodities Centre (DMCC), said he “strongly refuted and rejected” allegations from the CSC, made up of 11 rights groups, about the UAE’s suitability to chair KP. It is the first Arab nation to chair the group, which aims to regulate the international diamond industry to keep so-called “blood diamonds” or “conflict diamonds” off the market.

In his opening comments to the KP Intersessional 2016, at Atlantis, Palm Jumeirah, he said the UAE had agreed to all conditions set by the World Diamond Council, acting as moderators between the CSC and the UAE, but that had not satisfied “self-appointed leader” of the CSC, Alan Martin.

“Mr Martin’s claimed that he is fully operational in his KP duties despite his absence here today,” Bin Sulayem said. “To me, an empty chair is not fully operational.”

He added, “I urge Mr Martin in the strongest possible terms to get back to work.”

He outlined promising negotiations with Venezuela and the Central African Republic to rejoin the KP group, noting that Venezuela, which left the organisation in 2008, had been unable to export any of its stock of diamonds. He noted KP chairs had tried unsuccessfully to bring Venezuela back into the group, but he hoped that it could be achieved with the year of the UAE’s chair.

“I see two key tasks before us; addressing the true challenges of today to strengthen the KP and to set a path ensuring the Kimberley Process will meet the challenges of the future,” Bin Sulayem said. “We have a responsibility to the entire diamond supply chain and its stakeholders to approach the most challenging questions and through consensus, power forward important, much needed change.”

Earlier, UAE Minister of Economy Sultan Bin Saeed Al Mansouri outlined the importance of the diamond trade to the UAE.

“Dubai and DMCC are vital centres in the UAE’s trade economy with commodities such as gold and diamonds featuring at the top of our list of contributors to GDP,” he said. “And this is one of the principle reasons why the trade in diamonds, and our chairmanship of the Kimberley Process, are so important to us as a nation.”

He added: “Last year, even though prices of diamonds faced challenging market conditions, The UAE imported $12.4 billion worth of rough diamonds and re-exported $13.2 billion worth, giving the UAE rough diamond trade a total value of $25.6 billion in 2015,” he said.

Valuation issues

Kimberley Process chair Ahmed Bin Sulayem said the valuation of rough-shaped diamonds remained a concern for the group, but it was beginning to work with industry leaders and the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) to resolve it.

“Rough diamond valuation is a challenge that is not limited to one country, one diamond centre, or the Kimberley Process — it is a critical challenge for the entire diamond industry,” he said. “In particular, it is a top priority for the diamond exporting countries in Africa, which are looking to get the best value from their mineral resource wealth.”

A diamond expert at the conference, currently preparing her PHD thesis on the diamond trade, explained there were two main problems for valuations: ensuring a fair price for small-scale, artisan diamond miners, and standardising the valuation process.

The expert, who declined to be named, said De Beers alone had 17,000 grades for diamonds, and each miner and dealer had its own methods.

A standard valuation process would help ensure the provenance of a diamond, she said, boosting the Kimberley Process’s efforts to keep blood diamonds off the market, but protocols for dealing with rough-shaped diamonds would be even harder.

She said the number of cut diamonds produced from a rough-shaped stone could depend on the skill of the cutter, and an error in cutting could destroy a high-tension stone, both of which made it difficult to track a cut stone’s provenance.


 

Door still open for NGOs after boycott of Kimberley Process proceedings

Frank Kane

http://www.thenational.ae/business/economy/door-still-open-for-ngos-after-boycott-of-kimberley-process-proceedings

24 May 2016
 
Ahmed bin Sulayem, the chairman of the Kimberley Process, has urged non-governmental organisations (NGOs) to participate in the diamond regulatory organisations’ future proceedings, following an escalation of the dispute between some NGOs and the UAE.

“Our door remains open to any civil society and industry organisation alike who is in a position to contribute fairly, transparently and independently to discussions of the KP and to work together on improving the future for the diamond sector," Mr bin Sulayem told delegates at the opening of the KP Intersessional meeting in Dubai.

His appeal followed a boycott of KP proceedings by the Civil Society Coalition (CSC), an organisation of African and Canadian activists, after CSC had repeated its decision to stay away from KP proceedings under the UAE’s 2016 chairmanship.

Alan Martin, research director of the KP, emailed KP members on the eve of the Dubai meeting, listing grievances against the UAE’s chairmanship and diamond-trading practices in the Dubai Diamond Exchange.

The dispute is important because it could destabilise the KP, which rests on “three pillars": producing countries; industry; and civil society. Other NGOs have pulled out of KP proceedings in the past.

Mr bin Sulayem said the CSC’s head should stop his “self-serving" protests and “allow the future of the KP to continue unhindered". He said: “I also urge a broader group of fellow international and credible NGOs to join the KP – be it Amnesty, Human Rights Watch or Global Witness – to be part of the future of the diamond industry, rather than allow a single NGO individual to hold the KP and the World Diamond Council to ransom."

The dispute overshadowed the first full day of the KP meeting, which also heard from Sultan Al Mansouri, the Minister of Economy, of the importance of the industry to the UAE.

“Last year, even though prices of diamonds faced challenging market conditions, the UAE imported US$12.4 billion worth of rough diamonds and re-exported $13.2bn worth, giving the UAE rough diamond trade a total value of $25.6bn in 2015. It is this sort of contribution … that gives us the assurance that the UAE will meet its goals of economic diversity and more," he said.


 

Diamond exports ban lifted from Central African Republic

Cecilia Jamasmie 

http://www.mining.com/diamond-exports-ban-lifted-from-central-african-republic/

7 July 2016

Central Africa Republic will be allowed to resume diamond exports after a three-year ban that tried preventing armed groups from financing one of the bloodiest conflicts the region has seen in recent years by illegally selling local gems.

The partial lifting of the export ban follows a deal between CAR’s government and producers brokered by the United Arab Emirates last March. It will initially apply to the southern region of Berberati, Mines Minister Leopold Mboli Fatrane said as reported by Reuters.

Illicit trafficking of diamonds in the nation helped finance a more than two years of inter-religious conflict, which flared up again in September last year, leaving at least 50 people casualties in the capital Bangui in a matter of hours.

CAR’s diamonds exports were banned in May 2013 after the Kimberley Process, which seeks to halt the sale of gems from war zones, said there was no way to determine whether so-called blood diamonds had been eliminated from shipments.

The country was ranked as the world’s 10th-biggest diamond producer by value in 2012, according to the US Geological Survey. The Kimberley Process estimates diamond output was worth more than $62 million in both 2011 and 2012.

The first gems to leave the country following the resumption of exports comprise 3,703 carats of stocks that must be examined and approved by the government's diamond inspection office.


Zimbabwe villagers displaced by diamond mining hope to see action from government

Seven years later the villagers have yet to see the promised education and health facilities while their homes are crumbling and food is scarce.

Andrew Mambondiyani

Reuters 

13 June 2016

Villagers re-located to a sprawling government-owned farm complex in eastern Zimbabwe to make way for the nation’s biggest diamond field are hoping that President Robert Mugabe’s move to take control of the valued resource will benefit them.

More than 1,000 families were moved in 2009 from a village adjacent to the Chiadzwa diamond field in Marange to Arda Transau, a 12,000 hectare farm settlement about 40 km (25 miles) to the north with promises of a better life.

Arda Transau was billed as a new township with tarred roads, shops and health clinics – but seven years later the villagers say they have yet to see the promised education and health facilities while their homes are crumbling and food is scarce.

Seven mining companies licensed to mine the area were ordered in March to leave by Mugabe who accused them of robbing Zimbabwe of wealth. Mugabe took over all diamond operations in the newly-formed Zimbabwe Consolidation Diamond Company (ZCDC).

Some of the affected diamond companies – Mbada Diamonds and Anjin Investments – have since taken the government to court with the issue still pending before the courts.

While Mugabe’s move could further tarnish the country’s image as a risky investment, with investors already unnerved by his drive to force foreign-owned firms to sell majority shares to locals, the relocated villagers are hoping it will help them.

Caiphas Mujuru is one of the Arda Transau residents lobbying the government to get ZCDC to address the problems faced by the villagers who are facing severe food shortages.

“Life is really difficult here at Arda Transau. We are going hungry,” Mujuru told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

“We had been promised honey and milk here but it is now a nightmare for us.”

DROUGHT AND HUNGER

When the villagers were moved, each family was given $1,000 in compensation and a four-room house but these new dwellings, painted bright yellow, have since developed cracks.

Families were promised 11 hectares of arable land including one hectare earmarked for irrigation to run small piggery or poultry projects but this never happened, the villagers say.

People in Marange hoped the diamond industry would pump money into reviving failing irrigation schemes as small-scale farmers cannot maintain or replace ageing equipment and national law requires mining companies to help local communities develop.

But the plight of the villagers has been further exacerbated by the current El Nino induced drought which has decimated the southern African nation’s crops, leaving 4 million Zimbabweans in a population of 14 million without adequate food supplies.

The villagers had the chance to voice their concerns at the Alternative Mining Indaba conference in Mutare this month comprising civic society, communities and stakeholders in the mining sector and legislators promised to help.

“We will take your concerns to the Minister of Mines (Walter Chidhakwa),” Prosper Mutseyami, legislator for Musikavanhu constituency in Chipinge district, told the villagers.

However the diamond companies maintain they fulfilled what they were expected to do for the relocated villagers.

Anjin Investments, which was a joint venture between the government and Chinese investors, said it complied with the law when it came to the relocation of the villagers.

“We did everything required by the law,” Anjin Investments’ Chief Executive Officer Munyaradzi Machacha told the Thomson Reuters Foundation in a telephone interview.

A spokesman for Mbada Diamonds, George Manyaya, said his company was happy with what they had done for the villagers and the traditional leaders had appreciated their initiatives.

But villager Blessing Mufute said the situation at Arda Transau had become so bad that many people were going hungry.

“We have been selling the few livestock we had to buy food,” said Mufute, adding relocated villagers were in urgent need of jobs, clean water, and electricity as well as food.

In a telephone interview with the Thomson Reuters Foundation, Mines Minister Walter Chidhakwa said local people should not feel they are forgotten.

He said the Manicaland Provincial Affairs Minister Mandi Chimene would work with the Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare to provide social and food assistance to the villagers.

Contractors would also be asked to work on the poorly built houses at Arda Transau, Chidhakwa added.

But James Mupfumi, who heads the Centre for Research and Development, a local non-governmental investigative organisation, is sceptical.

“It is disheartening to realise that the Mines Minister has already visited Arda Transau for Zimbabwe Consolidated Diamond Company to relocate more villagers to Arda Transau without addressing previous community grievances,” he said.

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